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Parenting in the Age of Obesity: 10 Ways to Raise Happier and Healthier Children

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It was not that long ago that most parents worried that their kids would not have enough to eat, but that has changed in a big way. For parents in the modern age, obesity is a much bigger problem than scarcity.

Parenting effectively in the age of obesity presents some real challenges, and the risks of failure are great indeed. Children who are overweight often struggle with excess pounds and body image issues throughout their lives, and unhealthy eating habits can start early. If you want to get your own kids off to a healthy start, you need to take a proactive approach. Here are 10 things you can do to instill healthy eating habits in your kids.

1. Set a good example.

From the youngest ages, kids learn by watching their parents. If you fail to set a good example, your kids will likely follow suit. If you want your kids to be slim and healthy, start by examining your own diet and eating habits.

2. Stock the pantry with healthy snacks.

If you do not bring junk food and sugar-laden snacks into your home, your kids' access will be severely limited. Stocking the pantry with healthy food is a great way to encourage good eating habits in your kids.

3. Serve a hearty breakfast.

Skipping breakfast is always a bad idea, but it is particularly hard on growing bodies and minds. Kids who eat breakfast may be less likely to binge on candy, chips and other unhealthy fare once they get to school.

4. Look into organized sports.

From baseball and soccer to track and football, organized sports can be very good for kids. Just playing sports is good exercise, so encourage your kids to get involved.

5. Limit screen time.

It is easy to lose track of calories while watching TV or binging on the latest viral video sensation. If you want to fight the obesity epidemic, encourage your kids to put down the screens and spend some quality time outside.

6. Become a label reader.

Sometimes foods that look healthy really aren't, so don't fall for the ruse. Become a label reader and know what to look for in the foods you buy for your kids - and yourself.

7. Be sneaky.

Getting kids to eat their veggies can be tough, and sometimes a little subterfuge is necessary. Find creative ways to sneak greens into the meals you serve, from grinding vegetables into sauces to slipping them into baked goods.

8. Be smart about beverages.

What your kids drink is important, so limit sugary soft drinks and sweetened juices. Encourage your kids to drink plenty of water, including flavored water sweetened naturally with healthy fruit.

9. Get help from your child's pediatrician.

Medical professionals are key sources of support for parents and their children. Seek advice and guidance from your child's pediatrician, and follow their advice for raising a happy and healthy youngster.

10. Teach your kids to cook.

Being involved in meal preparation is good for kids, and it could help them live a healthier lifestyle. Encourage your kids to chip in at mealtimes, and talk to them about nutrition and its link to good health.

Raising happy and healthy children is becoming more challenging, but there are steps parents can take to turn the tide and fight the scourge of obesity. The tips listed above can help you raise a healthier family, so you can take charge of your children's future.

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